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Let’s look at camera enforcement

Videalert’s Rob Kinch offers some advice to councils planning to introduce moving traffic enforcement

Rob Kinch
10 May 2021
Rob Kinch
Rob Kinch


Councils outside London and Wales will soon be able to request authority to enforce moving traffic contraventions. With increasing pressure on budgets, they must find ways to reduce costs and increase efficiency whilst driving compliant vehicle movements that enable the delivery of wider outcomes. Here are nine key questions to help them achieve ‘best value’ when planning their approach.

1.    Why enforce moving traffic contraventions?
Regulation of the movement of traffic on roads is intended to ensure safety, particularly that of vulnerable road users, alongside managing the network to help reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality.

Effective controls also enable specific vehicle classes, such as buses, to be given priority in the allocation of finite road space. Effective enforcement is one way in which councils can deliver on these outcomes, encouraging compliance and behavioural change amongst motorists.

2.    Where to locate cameras?
It is important that enforcement cameras are positioned correctly to achieve the required impact and drive motorist compliance. Redeployable camera surveys are not only an effective way to determine this, but they are also quick and easy to conduct. Battery powered cameras, installed onto lamp columns or existing street furniture at identified locations, capture all vehicle movements during agreed times.

The results can be viewed online with visual representation based on COBA classification data (Cars, LGV, OGV1, OGV2, bus, coach, bicycle and motorised cycle).

Reports can also be generated showing the number of potential contraventions by vehicle type and overall traffic volumes. This provides councils with the data required to understand the level of non-compliance and support decisions on whether to deploy CCTV enforcement cameras in a wide range of moving traffic applications.

3.    Automated or manual?
Automated, unattended enforcement platforms deliver higher levels of productivity at a lower cost than can be achieved with traditional, attended systems which require people to monitor each camera location, identify contraventions and construct evidence packs.

As well as eliminating the restricted working hours and shift patterns that limit the overall effectiveness of manually operated systems, automated systems provide a quick three-click process to review evidence packs and produce penalty charge notices (PCNs) without the need for manual cropping and data protection tools to take still images and video footage to construct evidence packs.

Importantly, councils that have automated the enforcement process have also reported up to a six-fold increase in performance and productivity in comparison to legacy attended systems.

4.    Multi-tasking or single point?
Multi-tasking digital video platforms significantly reduce costs and deliver higher levels of future proofing as they support multiple civil traffic enforcement, traffic management, parking, crime prevention and improved community safety applications simultaneously using the same infrastructure. They also allow additional cameras and contraventions to be added quickly and cost effectively.

These centralised platforms also facilitate the sharing of data to multiple stakeholders, including police, transport and highways teams, car parking operators and community safety partnerships. This enables available budgets to be leveraged, provides extended coverage at a lower cost and increases the value of the information captured.

5.    Mobile enforcement options?
Mobile enforcement vehicles (MEV) can be integrated into these digital video platforms. Councils have a wide choice of options when determining the type of vehicle to meet their specific requirements.

Fleet options now include fully electric cars, vans and motorcycles as well as hybrid and other fuel variants. Fully electric options enable councils to demonstrate their commitment to reducing emissions.

It is important to check the performance of these vehicles as the best can achieve number plate read rates of over 98% when driven at normal road speeds.

6.    Clean Air and Low Emission Zones?
Multi-tasking digital video platforms can also be used to monitor and manage low traffic neighbourhoods, school streets and clean air and low emission zones at the same time as enforcing moving traffic contraventions.

The cameras capture vehicles entering these zones and provide real-time data which is then assessed based on the make, model, colour, gross weight, engine type, Euro rating and CO2 emission band to determine whether the valid charge has been paid.

Those vehicles that are either below the required Euro rating standard or have not paid the valid charge in the time permitted will have captured footage passed for review and may be liable for PCNs.

7.    Measuring air quality improvements?
It is useful for councils to be able to cross-correlate the impact of improved driver compliance with improvements in air quality. This can be achieved using air quality monitors that capture real-time data capture on the level of polluting airborne particulates, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon dioxide.

As well as showing the levels of gas and particulate matter at different times throughout the day and night, this data can be combined with CCTV data to strengthen and validate the business case for the adoption of moving traffic enforcement restrictions to further improve the drive for clean air.

8.    Flexible or fixed infrastructure?
Digital enforcement platforms use standard off-the-shelf equipment and seamlessly integrate with existing CCTV systems and infrastructure used by local authorities. As well as supporting existing analogue cameras, such platforms allow a progressive migration from analogue to digital camera environments. The ability of these platforms to support the industry standard (ONVIF) for IP cameras, access control and ‘edge-based’ video storage is crucial.

Edge computing is a distributed computing paradigm that brings computation and data storage closer to the location where it is needed to improve response times and save bandwidth.

It means that councils no longer need to be locked into products from a single vendor, but can choose “best of breed” and evolve their infrastructure as new technologies emerge.

Costs and street clutter can be further minimised by combining the same infrastructure wherever possible. For example, Videalert’s re-deployable WAN units support multiple cameras and enforcement activities negating the need to have a ‘processor on a pole’ for every traffic management activity.

9.    Hosted enforcement solutions?
Department for Transport Manufacturer Certified hosted solutions are now commonly deployed as they eliminate the need for councils to procure and deploy any equipment within their IT infrastructures or install software on local PCs for evidence pack review.

Images of contraventions are transmitted via secure cellular communications to these hosted platforms where evidence packs can be viewed and validated prior to sending to parking management systems for PCN progression. To reduce the number of appeals, registered keepers can view still photographs and video footage of alleged offences online.

As well as enabling additional enforcement activities to be procured on demand with installations taking place in weeks rather than months, hosted services can be delivered through a variety of flexible commercial models.

Rob Kinch is technology and innovation director at Videalert

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